This portion of the lyrics caught my attention, but they also made me think of the Stephen Stills song Love The One You're With. Both seem very applicable.
girl, you better wake up
(Ooh, ooh) girl, you better run
(He's gone) first thing in the morning
Faster than a bullet coming out of that gun
(Ooh, ooh) tells you that he loves you
(Ooh, ooh) then he take it all back
Girl, you gotta wonder
Girl, you gotta wonder
Girl, you gotta wonder 'bout a man like that
In the throes of passion it was not uncommon for Napoleon Solo to utter some sweet endearment, possibly even the L word, because in the moment, he always loved the woman he was with.
This time, however, overcome by the moment, Napoleon decided to quote Elizabeth Barrett Browning. In relating the trouble that this had provoked to his unbelieving partner, Illya could barely contain the laughter that was welling within. He began to recite the famous lines of the lovestruck poet, much to Napoleon's chagrin.
"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of being and ideal grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for right.
I love thee purely, as they turn from praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use…"
The effective resonance of Illya's voice delivered the lines with a faux passion he hoped mimicked that of Napoleon's, only to be cut off before he could finish it.
"There, stop there! I did, I wanted to get to the part 'I love thee with the passion'… "
Illya snorted a derisive sounding rebuttal.
"And you think that would inhibit the poor woman's perception of what you were saying, and dare I say doing to her?"
Napoleon's head dropped to his chest, the usual indication of defeat on the part of the American. He shook his head in denial, still intent on defending his actions and words.
"Illya, I have a philosophy here… You probably wouldn't understand." Illya's face was creased by a wide grin as he shook his head at what he considered the folly of his friend's activities.
"Indeed I do know the mantra for your inability to curb your libido.' That made Napoleon's lip curl, yet another characteristic of Napoleon's displeasure of things. Illya went on…
"If you can't be with the one you love then love the one you're with."
A deep breath and a detached air followed as Napoleon straightened his tie and gave a tug to both cuffs, his attention seemingly now on personal grooming.
"I did not mean to mislead her. You do believe that, right?" Illya nodded, suddenly feeling sorry for his amorous friend. In their line of work the occasional tryst was sometimes the only relief from the intrigue and, too often, the killing. He didn't describe himself as an assassin, and yet death seemed to follow them like a blood hound, searching out the darkest parts of their souls.
"I believe that you never take what isn't willingly offered, my friend. Is she terribly upset over it?" The young woman had apparently thrown something at Napoleon when he tried to explain his words, the poem and his owning up to not actually loving her. Not every woman could follow through with their assurances that they were only in it for pleasure; that nothing was expected beyond the night at hand.
"She said she was going to broadcast her complaint to as many women as she could. Geez Illya, she works in the UNCLE charity front, knows so many…" Now Napoleon sat down and put his chin in his hand, wearied by this situation and the probable fallout. He hadn't meant any harm.
"There are far more women who understand you, possibly even me.' Napoleon looked up at his friend and smiled. The probability of anyone understanding Illya Kuryakin struck him as … improbable.
"Hardly any of the women here at HQ are going to buy into this one's complaint. She doesn't understand where she is in the food chain among the ladies of UNCLE. You mistook her for one of the informed, those who truly know what we do and how unsettling it can be. We are armed and dangerous, and the women we choose to be with often are as well. You just chose the wrong woman Napoleon. This too shall pass."
The two friends exchanged meaningful looks full of resignation to the life of an agent, of the lack of loving companions who could tolerate how they lived and what they had to do in order to accomplish what was required of them.
Eventually the woman to whom the sonnet was quoted tired of trying to convince others of Napoleon's black soul. She was gone before many weeks, discouraged by an environment she could not understand or condone. Not everyone could live within the demands of the Command.
As for Napoleon, he still had his mantra and a list of willing partners who did not take offense at it. Perhaps one day he would love someone, and then he could recite Browning, and mean it.